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Frequently asked questions

No, it is not necessary to notify the Forestry Commission before having a fire in an outdoor firepit/fireplace.  If you do open burning in which you are burning vegetative yard debris, leaves, etc., then you would need to call the County notification line to notify the Forestry Commission.

No; however, if you would contact the director of the state forest you are inquiring about, sometimes we have an area available for firewood removal.

There are different requirements in SC, depending on what you are burning and why. For land clearing to build a home or any kind of development (i.e. clearing the property and converting it from a forest), the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Open Burning Regulations apply. You can find the regulations here: https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/R.61-62.2_0.pdf

Here are a few things that these regs specify:

  • the burning has to be at least 1000’ from public roadways and commercial, industrial, or residential sites that are not part of the property you are working on
  • the winds must be blowing away from roads or commercial or residential structures
  • dirt in the burn piles is minimized
  • the material to be burned must be from the site
  • burning must be started between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and no material can be added before or after those times
  • no more than two piles that measure 30’X30’ (or and equivalent size) can be burned at one time
  • salvageable timber and pulpwood has to be removed

The DHEC regulations and another state law also require that you make a notification to the Forestry Commission before you burn. For this type of burn, you can use the notification number for the county in which you live. When you call, you will hear what the current fire danger is, then leave your name, contact info, and location of the burn via voicemail. The law requires that you clear a firebreak around the burning site and have the right equipment available to keep the fire under control. You must also stay with the fire until it is completely safe. It is also usually a good idea to call the fire department in your area to let them know, and to make sure there are no county fire restrictions or ordinances that apply. If you have questions about the setbacks and pile size requirements, the air quality contact in the local DHEC office is probably your best resource.

At this time as long as you abide by all state and federal regulations and laws concerning UAV usage you should be OK. The SCFC state forest system does not have any specific regulations pertaining to UAV usage within a state forest. However; you should be aware that we have a state forest very close to a state correctional facility, one very close to a military to a military installation  and  air space and two that are utilized regularly by the military for training with in conjunction with aircraft. It would be your responsibility to comply with any laws or regulations concerning these issues.

South Carolina’s state tree is the Palmetto, commonly known as the Cabbage Palmetto. It has been closely associated with the history of South Carolina, being represented on the State Flag since 1777, as well as the State Seal. It is symbolic of the defeat of the British fleet at the fort on Sullivan’s Island, built of Palmetto logs. The Palmetto is an attractive feature of the coastal areas of South Carolina, and is also found in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

Spacing will vary by species, site, and landowner objectives. A professional forester can recommend spacing for your situation. Recommended Spacing

Dig a hole twice the size of the roots and deep enough to hold all of the roots. Place the tree in the planting hole as shown in the picture. Fill in the planting hole with soil around the roots. Water the tree well. Give your trees a good soaking with water once a week. Protect your trees from fire, lawnmowers, bicycles, cars, pets, weeds, and grass. Check How to Plant a Tree for more details.

South Carolina doesn’t issue burning permits, but if you plan to burn outside town or city limits, the law requires you to notify the Forestry Commission before starting the fire. When you call and leave your information it confirms that your burn complies with the safety precautions prescribed by state law. Each county has a special number to call if you want to burn leaves or shrubbery trimmings in your yard, or construction, land clearing burns. For all forestry, wildlife, and agricultural burns call 1-800-777-FIRE.

Yes. It is against the law to allow a fire to escape. If your escaped fire burns someone else’s property, you may also be held responsible for damages in civil court.

A Red Flag Fire Alert is a wildfire danger warning issued by the SC Forestry Commission. The Red Flag cautions that wildfire danger is increasing and that outdoor burning could become difficult to control.
A Red Flag Fire Alert does not prohibit outdoor burning as long as all other state and local regulations are followed. When a Red Flag is in effect, the Forestry Commission asks people to voluntarily postpone any outdoor burning.
A Burning Ban legally prohibits outdoor burning. Bans are emergency measures, declared only when outdoor burning is deemed a significant threat to public safety.

Fire season is the time of year when high wildfire danger is most likely to develop. This varies by geographic area, depending on climate, weather patterns, and vegetation. In South Carolina, the normal fire season is January through mid-April.

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably to describe any wildfire burning in outdoor vegetation. The news media and fire departments tend to use the term “brush fire” while forestry organizations prefer to say “woods fire” or “forest fire”.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission is a state agency charged with the protection, promotion, and development of South Carolina’s forestland. Some of the Commission’s most important jobs are wildfire protection and forest management services to private non-industrial landowners. The U.S. Forest Service is a federal agency that has control over federal land like the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests.

There are several ways this can be done. To ensure that you receive the best service and a quality job, contact a professional.  Your local Forestry Commission office can supply you with the names of registered foresters in your area who can be of assistance. It is important that you are treated fairly and that the integrity of your land is respected during the harvest operation. A professional forester can direct and advise you concerning the best methods.

The Forestry Commission does not issue these, you need to contact the Department of Natural Resources at (803)734-3888.

Unfortunately, most people do not know they have beetle infestations in their pine timber until the damage has already been done. Trees are dying. Yellow to bright orange and dead needles on the trees is the most obvious sign; small, white popcorn-shaped pitch tubes attached to the bark is another sign. The Forestry Commission conducts periodic aerial flights to detect infestations. If beetles are observed on your property, you will be contacted by letter about the locations of the spot or spots and recommendations given on action you should take. If you think you might have Southern Pine Beetle infestation, contact your local Forestry Commission office.

The Forestry Commission only grants permits for pine straw to individuals on Sand Hills State Forest. Large blocks of straw are sold by bid to commercial straw rakers on Sand Hills and Manchester State Forests. Please contact them for more information.

Contact your local Forestry Commission office for a list.

Earth Day is April 22.

Arbor Day marks the beginning of tree planting season. Climate determines when this is in any given area. South Carolina’s planting season begins in December and ends in mid-March. According to South Carolina law the first Friday in December of each year is observed as Arbor Day. National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April.

The greenhouse effect is a more recent problem which results in global warming. Human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, have combined with natural processes to generate gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These trap the sun’s heat inside the atmosphere and the result is global warming. It is not known but many scientists predict that, unabated, the greenhouse effect will significantly influence global weather patterns, causing rising sea levels and change both the urban environment and natural ecosystems.

Tax tips for Forest Landowners
Call your local project forester or the Forest Management Section in Columbia at (803)896-8860.

Acid deposition – commonly called acid rain – is caused by emissions of sulfuric dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Once released into the atmosphere they can be converted chemically into such secondary pollutants as nitric acid and sulfuric acid, both of which easily dissolve in water. The resulting acidic water droplets can be carried long distances by prevailing winds, returning to earth as acid rain, snow, or fog.

Old growth is the final stage in the forest cycle of growth and renewal. It is characterized by large, old trees; a multi-layered canopy (varying tree heights); and large standing or fallen dead.

The ESA is designed to conserve threatened or endangered species until they are out of danger. An endangered species is one facing extinction in a specific location. A threatened species is one likely to become endangered. ESA lists include mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, plants, spiders, and insects. It is illegal to “take” a listed species. Taking is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.” Taking applies equally to endangered species on private and public land. There are civil and criminal penalties for taking. If land provides habitat for a listed species, it will be subject to strict federal regulations, such as limitations on tree harvesting and et

Biological diversity refers to the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur.

The underlying causes of deforestation in the tropical forests are poverty, inequitable land distribution, low agricultural productivity, inappropriate development, weak political institutions and rapid population expansion. Nearly half the rain forest area that is cleared is done by landless farmers for shifting cultivation. Clearing land for permanent agriculture and re-settlement programs is the second biggest cause of deforestation. Wood for heating and cooking by the world’s rural poor is the third.

Multiple-use forests are used for several purposes like outdoor recreation, timber, and wildlife. The management of the resources will not necessarily give the greatest dollar return. Economic factors are considered, but they do not necessarily control management decisions. All resource values are weighed and trade-offs are made.

A registered forester is a professional trained in the art and science of managing forests. He or she has a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in an accredited forestry curriculum at a college or university. Before one of these trained professionals can practice forestry they must be licensed by the Board of Registration for Foresters. To become licensed, they must pass a written or oral exam administered by the Board. A listing of registered foresters can be obtained by contacting the Foresters Registration Board at (803)896-4498.

Many foresters spend a lot of time outdoors during the first few years of their career. Typical outdoor duties might include measuring and grading trees, evaluating insect outbreaks, conducting land surveys, fighting wildfires, managing prescribed fires, laying out road systems, supervising the construction of trails and planting of trees, supervising timber harvesting, or conducting research studies. Foresters also plan and direct recreational use of forestlands, manage watersheds to maximize water quality, and plan forest practices that ensure an abundance of wildlife. After a few years of on-the-ground experience and crew supervision, foresters typically advance to administrative positions and may spend less time outside.

A professional forester holds a minimum of a four-year college degree, while a technician normally has completed a two-year degree in forest technology. Professional foresters make management decisions, conduct policy analysis, and apply ecological principles to resource management. Forest technicians often work under a forester’s supervision to collect data and information for the forester to make decisions. Technicians salary levels are usually less than a forester’s, but technicians have more of an opportunity to work in the field than behind a desk.
For information on educational opportunities, contact:

Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation
261 Lehotsky Hall
Clemson, SC 29634-0310
(864) 656-0606

Department Head Forestry Management Technology
Horry-Georgetown Technical College
4003 South Fraser Street
Georgetown, SC 29440
Phone: (843) 546-8406
Fax: (843) 546-1437

To be recognized as a professional forester, you must have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in forestry or a related forest resources curriculum. South Carolina requires foresters to be registered in order to provide forestry services to individuals. This requires at least two years of experience and completion of a written exam.

A college forestry program is quite rigorous and begins with basic coursework in mathematics, computer science, chemistry, botany, zoology, soils, ecology, and the social sciences. Take as much mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, earth sciences, and natural resources coursework as your high school offers. Also, it is extremely important to gain skills in writing and public speaking.

As in many other professions, there is competition for entry-level jobs. Over time, opportunity shifts between public and private employers. Top students are finding jobs, though, and will continue to do so. Summer job experience in forestry can also be helpful in future employment.

The State Forests are not a part of the State Parks, Recreation, and Tourism system. However, camping is allowed on Sand Hills State Forest by permit. You need to contact Sand Hills for more information.

An average, large healthy tree could have about 2,000 leaves. During 60 years of its life, such a tree could grow and shed approximately 3,600 pounds of leaves. Those leaves return about 70 percent of the nutrients to the soil.